Today’s post will make the case for leadership development. While much has been written about the traits and characteristics that form great leaders, the truth is that leaders come in many different varieties. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. That said, all good leaders all possess certain core qualities, and great leaders simply develop said core qualities to a higher level than their peers. Put simply, a leader’s shelf life will be equal to their ability to leverage their leadership traits through solid execution, and influencing their constituencies in alignment with the corporate vision with values. If you want to insure longevity and success as a leader, focus on developing your leadership acumen by prioritizing your efforts on the following list of 15 leadership traits:
- Always do the right thing regardless of sentiment, and never compromise your core values. If you cannot build trust and engender confidence with your stakeholders you cannot succeed. No amount of talent can overcome illegal, immoral or otherwise ill-advised actions. A leader void of integrity will not survive over the long-haul.
2.Excellent Decision Making Skills
- As a leader you will live or die by the quality of the decisions you make. When you’re the leader good decisioning is expected, poor decisioning won’t be tolerated, and great decisioning will set you apart from the masses.
3.Ability to Focus
- If you cannot focus, you cannot perform at the level necessary to remain in leadership for very long. The ability to do nothing more than understand and lock-onto priorities will place you in the top 10% of all leaders.
- Inexperience, a lack of maturity, needing to be the center of attention, not recognizing limitations, a lack of judgment, an inferior knowledge base, or any number of other common mistakes made by rookie leaders can cause your house of cards to fall. If you don’t have the experience personally, hire it, contract it, but by all means acquire it. Great leaders surround themselves with tier-one talent, and the best advisors money can buy. They don’t make uniformed or ill-advised decisions in a vacuum.
- Great leaders possess a strong presence and bearing. They are unflappable individuals that never let you see them sweat (unless of course it serves a purpose). Everything from how they carry themselves to how they speak and dress, messages that they are in charge.
- Great leaders have a strong bias to action. They don’t rest upon past accomplishments, and are always seeking to improve through change and innovation. In today’s fast paced and competitive environment those leaders who don’t openly embrace change will often be shown the door prior to the expiration of their initial employment contract.
- Great leaders understand branding at every level. They seek to build not only a dominant corporate brand, but also to leverage a strong personal brand. Leaders that are not well branded on a personal basis, or who let their corporate brand fall into decline will not survive.
- Great leaders have a boundless amount of energy. They are positive in their outlook, and their attitude is contagious. A low energy leader is not motivating, convincing, or credible.
9.Subject Matter Expertise
- Great leaders have a deep understanding of their subject matter, and a strong orientation toward achievement. Great leaders possess what often appears to be a sixth sense, or an almost instinctive feel for what the needs to occur in order to leverage their knowledge into a competitive advantage.
- Great leaders have a nose for talent. They understand how to recruit, develop and deploy talent focusing on applying the best talent to the best opportunities. They also know when it’s time to make changes, and to cut losses as needed.
- Great leaders know how to engender trust, when and how to share information, and are expert listeners. They develop strong and positive team/organizational cultures driven to performance by aligned motivations. They can quickly diagnose whether the team/organization is performing at full potential, delivering on commitments, and whether the team is changing and growing versus just operating.
- Great leaders possess a powerful motivation to increase their knowledge base and to convert their learning into actionable initiatives. They question, challenge, confront and are never accepting of the status quo.
- Great leaders are also great thinkers…both at the strategic and tactical levels. They are quick on their feet, and know how to get to the root of an issue faster than anyone else. I’ve never met a great leader who wasn’t extremely discerning.
- Regardless of the physical or geographical boundaries of their current role, great CEOs think big and add a zero. Limited thinking results in limited results. Whether global thinking is applied to capital formation, supply-chain issues, business development, strategic partnering, distribution or any number of other areas, those leaders who don’t grasp the importance of thinking globally will not endure. Great leaders are externally oriented, hungry for knowledge of the world, and adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns.
- Great leaders refuse to lose. They have an insatiable appetite for accomplishment and results. While they may reengineer or change direction, they will never lose sight of the end game.
Mike Myatt, is a Top CEO Coach, author of “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual“, and Managing Director of N2Growth.